ASK JAMES: Bad Coworkers, Dot-com 2.0 Bubble, The Perfect Day, Handling Overwhelming Work, and MORE
- Posted by James Altucher
Every Thursday from 3:30Pm – 4:30Pm EST I do a Q&A session on Twitter. I really enjoy doing them and the people who ask the questions I feel like I’m getting to know. Which says a lot for me because I usually hide in a dark hole in the corner of my house, afraid to talk to people. So please come Thursday to Twitter and ask me even more questions. Then I do 1-2 blog posts summarizing some of the answers over the weekend and expanding on a few of them.
Eventually I will gather them together in a book along with original material based on questions I answer via email.
HOW LONG SHOULD I TRY THE NEWS DIET?
iamtiffani Tiffani Asks:
Some people sleep walk. Others sleep eat or talk in their sleep. I apparently sleep news. @jaltucher would be disappointed.
ANSWER: By the way, this wasn’t a question. She just happened to tweet this while I was doing the twitter Q&A.
Here’s my worst habit when I’m trying to sleep eight hours.
I wake up to go to the bathroom at 2 in the morning. This , in itself, is annoying. I’m dead tired. I’m in the middle of a dream, and suddenly in the dream I have to go to the bathroom. But everywhere I go, there’s someone already there. So I have to run around in my dream to find another bathroom. It never ends until I finally wake up at 2am and go to the bathroom.
I’m so tired, I think to myself: well, at least I’ll fall back to sleep right away. I’m too tired.
But then I get back in my bed. I have my ipad, my laptop, my phone, and maybe even some headphones within three feet of me.
I figure, “I’m so tired, I might as well check what’s going on for a few seconds. Its too tempting.”
Ipad ON: Email, twitter, twitter mentions, blog, blog stats, facebook, S&P futures, amazon book rank. And god forbid, THE NEWS.
And now I’m up. Why did that one person write that one email? Or, why is the world so screwed up? Or…do I need to delete that negative comment right now?
- (NO SCREENS AT NIGHT!)
Claudia is sound asleep next to me. Doesn’t she even give a shit what’s going on in the world at 2 in the morning. Now 3 in the morning? Doesn’t’ she give a shit that my book FELL in Amazon ranking? Or that I got an email about that deal I was working on?
So now its 3am and I can’t sleep. Maybe I’ll read a book for fifteen minutes. That will make me sleep. I’m up anway. Maybe I can even get work done. So then I read until 4am. I’ve been up two hours. Normally I would’ve woken up between 4 and 5 so now I fall back to sleep and I don’t wake up until seven AM and I’m totally exhausted now.
THIS IS BAD.
So I replied to @iamtiffani. Screen diet. No screen between 6:30pm and 8am.
We never had screens before and we lived. Why do we need to see the screen between those hours now? We’ll sleep better. Make love better. Eat better. Be less stressed. Less anxious. Less needy (I won’t need to check my number of twitter followers for an entire 13.5 hours a day.)
But it’s hard. For people with screen addictions (me), its VERY hard. So do this. Try it for five days. Starting today. Just do it. No screen between 6:30pm and 8am. That’s too hard? Poor baby! Ok, try this: between 7:30pm and 7am.
Please, I beg you. Because I’m selfish. Because I know the world will be a better place if we all just try this screen diet.
Let’s Occupy Sleep and become in the top 1% of people who live well-rested, less stressful lives. Then we will inherit the Earth.
IS THIS DOT-COM BUBBLE 2.0?
@jaltucher Do u have any post on this topic how its different than the 1st dot-com? also many thx for book “…but now i see”
Definitely not. This is the dream of Internet 1.0 come true. What was that dream? That everything would be available,all the time online, cheaper, and we can communicate with anyone we wanted around the world, and of course, we could have more sex with more people than we could’ve thought possible.
What’s the proof?
These are not BS companies. Say what you want about Groupon, its the fastest growing company (in revenues) in history. Say what you want about Zynga it’s the fastest growing company (in profits) in history. Say what you want about the “old” dot-com companies: AMZN, EBAY, and lets throw GOOG (which came a little late to the game) and AAPL, they are all near all-time highs in value, revenues, and profits (which sort of suggests that even Internet 1.0 wasn’t a bubble, it was more of a way for the public to play VC. In the VC model there will be zeros and home runs. The public wasn’t used to this, so labeled it a “bust” which it wasn’t really given the number of companies from then that are at all-time highs now, 1000s% higher).
Internet companies deliver value, help the lives of consumers, and make enterprises get their own jobs done cheaper (the true cause for 9% unemployment is that the Internet created dead weight, just like the invention of machinery for agriculture ultimately ended slavery (not to compare slavery for dead weight but the only reason the south was so intent on “keeping” them was because they had no alternative of getting their fields tilled, harvested, planted, seeded, whatever).
Each generation of the Internet will eliminate deeper levels of corporate slavery. Its our duty:
- To not wonder about boom or bust but take advantage of all the new technologies at our disposal.
- Constantly seek to learn what they are (I am woefully behind. Already turning into an old man in my young age).
- To free ourselves from the boundaries we thought possible.
Long live Internet 2.0
START YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
adamclay211 Adam Clay
@jaltucher How do you know when the time is right to take the plunge, quit your job and focus on your own business? What about family risks?
What is a risk? I met someone the other day who worked for 38 years at GM. He was a middle-manager so he had no golden parachute (he wasn’t a high level executive) and he had no bronze parachute (he wasn’t a union member). Net result: he lost his life savings, his job, his savings.
There is no corporate safety. The risk to your family is you becoming inbred in your corporate job. You MUST leave, just as I recommend in the post “10 Reasons You Have to Quit Your Job Right Now!”
That said, don’t go crazy. Make sure you are smart and jumping to something better than you are leaving.
If you are going to a startup, you are investing not cash (which comes and goes), but your entire life, your dreams, your skill sets, your soul. In other words, do your due diligence. Here’s a sample checklist:
- - Talk to clients. Are they happy?
- - Whats the backgrounds of the heads of sales?
- - Has the CEO built and sold a business before and taken care of his employees in the process?
- - Does the company have at least 1 year’s cash.
- - What are plans for future rounds of fundraising?
- - Who are the current investors on board? Do they have deep pockets to keep funding the company?
- - Is the company squarely positioned in what you feel is a strong demographic trend?
- - Has the company proven its flexibility (i.e. has it already had a chance to learn from its mistakes)
If anything can think of anything else Adam should look for, please put it in the comments
HOW DO YOU ORGANIZE AN OVERWHELMING AMOUNT OF WORK
flabastida Fernando Labastida Asks:
@jaltucher how do you organize an overwhelming amount of work? Eg. how do you make sure you do what you have to do in a day/week?
There’s two answers. Just like there’s two answers to the question: “how can I have more money?”
Answer #1: You make more
Answer #2: You spend less.
And it’s not one or the other. You have to do BOTH.
A “week” has three characters in the story of your life: the events of the week, YOU, and the energy you start the week with.
Like in any good story, the three characters have problems at the beginning of the story, solve them throughout the story, and hopefully live happily ever after at the end.
So let’s see how they can do it:
Character #1: The events of the week. You only have a finite amount of energy. Nobody has infinite. Or we’d be like god or superheroes or something. So assume you have a finite amount of energy. And, to live a wholesome life you need to focus that energy on several things: your family, your friends, the people who love you, your own creative projects, staying healthy, and finally, the projects that advance your career. You also need to find some silence in your life.
So pull out a waiter’s pad right now and make the list: what events over the next week cover all of the above areas. You need to cover ALL of them. If anything is out of balance (your work projects) then reduce it. NOW.
I’m not saying your work life isn’t important. You’ll actually have a more successful work life if you reduce the number of work-related events you have to attend to over the next week. I’ll tell you my work schedule:
- - When I am in NYC I do no more than one meeting in the morning and one meeting in the afternoon.
- - When I write articles for others I try to do no more than one per week
- - When I do a work-related favor (“can you look at this company?”) I do no more than one per week
- - When I work on my blog I write every day but I post no more than 4-5 times per week.
This is the right balance for me that leaves me time to have silence for myself, spend time with Claudia, spend time with my kids.
What if you have a corporate job? Same thing: Try to do no more than one meeting in the afternoon and one in the morning. Try to spend some time working on your projects. Spend some time networking and/or helping other people with their projects, and make sure you have time for silence.
Character #2: YOU. You need to find time for yourself or you’ll never recharge. Too many people have said to me, “I need to just finish building this business and then I can get back in shape.” SORRY. That doesn’t work. You might die before you finish building that business.
It’s important to consistently do some variation of the Daily Practice I recommend either in this post or in my latest book. I say this not because I’m tryng to push you into anything but because I know it worked for me andsince I started recommending it a year ago, I’ve seen it work for many others.
Here’s how it goes, within 1 month you start to have ideas flowing (almost how you would be if all you ate were eggs, fruits, and vegetables – flowing!). Within 3 months you are an idea machine with double the energy. Within six months your life is completely different.
Character #3: Your energy. All I can say is: every six months my life is completely different. And with double the energy. Go for it.
WHAT’s THE PERFECT DAY?
@jaltucher what’s your perfect day?
ANSWER: I’m not going to answer on what my perfect day is. But what your perfect day could look like. Try to check these boxes:
- - Be around people who love you
- - Come up with ten new ideas for businesses you can start, how you can improve your job, books or articles you can write, gifts or favors you can give people you love, ideas for how you can help others, etc. Just come up with ten new ideas.
- - Kiss someone. Preferably a lot. Kids are good. Or a spouse.
- - Do something creative. Ideally something creative that either makes you money or there’s way to connect the dots between creativity and money. Creativity doesn’t always have to equal “more money” but it helps. Even if its a business idea. Businesses are creative. Not just paintings or novels.
- - I sleep eight or nine hours. Or, heck, ten hours.
- - I find a time in the middle of the day to be by myself for a bit.
- - Part of that time I can use to read a book.
- - Part of it I can use to just be quiet and not think or worry about anything.
- - I take a huge BM. Nothing is better than that.
- - I avoid all junk food and eat no more than two healthy meals a day. Some people say you should eat lots of little meals all day long. Maybe they are right. But I find that its hard to eat “little” meals and that I tend to eat lots of big meals all day long whenever I try that approach.
- - I have feelings of gratitude towards everyone I meet. This is hard and is a practice (for me).
- - Ideally I meet or talk to new people during the day but I don’t do more than one meeting in the morning and one meeting in the afternoon.
- - I exercise. Ideally yoga with Claudia.
- - I read a spiritual text of some sort.
- - I read good fiction.
Believe it or not, I find on most days I can do most of the above. Tell me in the comments how your ideal day might be different or what you think I should add to mine.
HOW TO DEAL WITH A CRAPPY CO-WORKER?
@jaltucher Twitter Q&A – what is the best way to deal with a co-worker who consistently discredits you in a passive aggressive way
- - Never argue with him.
- - Never gossip about him behind his back
- - Never blame him
- - Never respond to anything he says other than direct, factual information or a simple “yes” or “no”.
In other words: NO DANCING. This person is an inconsequential bug. Don’t think about him, talk about him, talk to him, or “think to him” in any way. This creates the atmosphere/ecosystem/training where it will his passive aggressiveness will ultimately have no effect on you.
Remember, he was beaten as a child, or rejected by girls, or harassed by other bosses or co-workers and now he is trying to do all of that to you. Don’t let any of it stick on your mind, your emotions, or your body. It’s hard. But you will do it. And that’s how he will be trained like the dog he is to treat you better.
And once he starts treating you better, give him credit when credit is deserved. Eventually this person will want to be your best friend. But by then you will have long moved on.
(See also, “How to Deal with Crappy People”)
CAN YOU START A COMPANY IN THIS BLEAK ECONOMY?
thefridayguy Friday Guy
@jaltucher How do you think in this bleak environ small financial services companies will survive? Or how can they?
So, he really asked a slightly different question but I’m broadening it. Let me tell you the truth: in any sector, in any economy, in any political environment, your only competition is yourself. 99.9999% of the people out there are unhealthy. I.e. they don’t exercise their physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual bodies as per “the Daily Practice”. So they are not your competition. You just have to make sure the luck flows your way and it does if you keep healthy on all four of those legs of the chair this world sits on.
Don’t forget: GroupOn, the fastest growing revenues company in history started in November, 2008, the worst financial month in history since the Great Depression.
I never think about the economy. There’s 5 trillion in unspent cash marinating all over the economy, doing nothing, because people are afraid.
Your job is to be healthy and help make them unafraid. To spend that 5 trillion in cash. On you.
WHAT SHOULD ONE CARE LESS ABOUT TO BE HAPPIER?
@jaltucher are there important “things” in life that if you care less about them you will be happier? if so, what are those things for you?
ANSWER: Of course! I outline this somewhat in my post “Stop Listening”. But try this exercise. Imagine a point when you were a kid when you were happy. At that point, what did you NOT care about?
- - I never cared about the news
- - Or the economy
- - Or gossip news
- - Very little about prime time TV (well, “Fantasy Island” on Saturday nights at 10pm I would look forward to)
- - I never cared about Europe
- - I never cared about sports (unless I was gambling but then I stopped gambling)
- - I certainly never cared about stocks.
Well,one can say, now you have responsibilities. Do I? I do care about my kids. But I still don’t need to care about the economy or Europe for the reasons outlined above inanother question.
I will never care about who is President. Not a single politician has ever made me happier or sadder. So I don’t care who is elected ever.
I don’t care what people think of me. This sounds harsh. I do, in fact, want people to like my writing. BUT, if someone is a jerk then I certainly don’t care what they think of me. And if someone is a good person and doesn’t like me well, then, there’s nothing I can do about it. Good thing there’s seven billion other people on the planet.
I try to never worry about going broke. When all you do is think of the ways you will go broke, you WILL go broke. But what I do is I know that if I network as much as possible and come up with good ideas for the people I network with and have the ability to discern who is worthwhile working with and who is not then I know I can always come back from zero. I’ve done it three times! This is a function of staying healthy in every way.
HOW DO YOU MAKE MONEY WRITING BOOKS?
CLAcevedo222 Carlos Acevedo
@jaltucher How do you make money selling an eBook while giving it away at the same time for free with a special offer?
ANSWER: Again, I broadened the question a little bit. But that’s because it answers this one.
YOU CAN’T MAKE MONEY SELLING BOOKS. Well, some can. JK Rowling can. The Freakonomics guys can.
But that’s one in a million. Literally those are the statistics. So here’s why you write books (if money is your motive)
- - Everyone acknowledges that a book requires expertise and hard work. That expertise can win customers.
- - Consulting engagements
- - Speaking engagements
- - More people see your name which can lead to more networking. Networking can bring you down a maze of opportunities totally different from where you started but much more lucrative. Tim Ferris, the author of the “4 Hour Body” has Twitter shares, for instance. How did that happen? Because he knew how to make money off of his books!
- - OR, if you are prolific, you can write ten books. You can write 100 books. You can write 467 books! See, “5 things I learned from Isaac Asimov”
So, go write a book!
(See also, “Why and How to Self-Publish a Book”)
HOW DO YOU SET YOURSELF FROM THE COMPETITION IN A JOB INTERVIEW?
Be as honest as possible about all of your failures. Everyone can relate to your failures. Everyone else is saying how great they are. You’re saying howhorrible you are. Make it funny. You’ve fallen in mud like a slapstick comedian. That’s funny. If you can laugh at yourself, solve your problems, and still show up at the job interview, then you’ve separated yourself out from the competition.
You’re a failure.
And you’re a winner.
Congrats, you got the job.
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